The Garden Patch: Growing the ABCs of vegetables – Osage County Online | Osage County News

The Garden Patch: Growing the ABCs of vegetables

052514-garden-excericiseWell, we’re going to do something a little different (hopefully to make gardening a little more productive for you – and me). Starting this week, we’ll feature 11 different produce items for the garden and how to plant, grow, harvest and solve problems with each of them. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did researching it! Let’s give it a shot…

We’ll start (alphabetically) with asparagus. I gotta plant some this year ‘cause my patch is nearly 20 years old but still producing, though it shouldn’t be.

Asparagus can produce for 20 years or more and requires little care. The Extension office can recommend varieties that will grow well in your garden. It’s important to select a variety that is resistant to serious diseases such as rust and Fusarium wilt. Select only male plants, which yield more.

Sun and soil. Asparagus does best in full sun, but it can tolerate light shade. Asparagus likes fertile soil. Choose a site sheltered from strong wind.

Planting. Plant 1-year-old dormant asparagus crowns in spring as soon as the soil is dry enough to dig. Dig a furrow 6 inches deep and at least a foot wide down the center of the garden bed (the bed should be 3 to 4 feet wide). Use a spading fork to check that the soil in the furrow is loose to a depth of one foot below the soil surface. Add a 1-inch layer of compost to the furrow along with 1 pound of bone meal per 20 square feet of bed area. Mix the amendments into the soil at the bottom of the furrow. Add compost to the soil you’ve removed from the trench.

Place the crowns in the furrow 24 inches apart, gently spreading the roots in all directions. Cover with two inches of soil and water well. After young shoots emerge, keep adding more soil every week or two until you’ve filled the furrow. Continue to water when conditions are dry during the first year of growth. Mulch with a 1/2-inch layer of pine needles, straw or well-rotted leaves to conserve moisture.

Asparagus is difficult to grow in some areas of the country, but not here in the Midwest where we have nearly an ideal climate for growing it.

Growing. Weed carefully by hand the first year. In late winter, begin cutting off perennial weeds at the soil every two weeks.

Problem solving. To discourage asparagus beetles, cover the asparagus bed with row covers and seal the edges. In spring, handpick beetles in the morning when they are less active. Knock them into a container of soapy water. Chewed areas on spears may indicate slug, snail or asparagus beetle are feeding on them. Handpick them after 10 p.m., using a flashlight to find them on leaf undersides and at the base of plants. Drop them into soapy water. Another way to control these characters is to set out a saucer of beer. Attracted to the yeast, they plunge in and die. Or surround the bed with copper sheeting; when slugs and snails come in contact with it, they receive an electric shock which discourages them from returning.

At the end of the growing season discard or destroy any crowns or fronds that show signs of disease. If the entire stand is affected, start fresh in a different location with young, healthy plants.

Most of the information above is from the “Garden Planner”, a supplement to Organic Gardening magazine. Thank you for reading, hope it helps! Till next time!

stevehallerSteve Haller, of Osage City, a K-State Research and Extension Master Gardener, writes The Garden Patch, featuring gardening ideas and tips for gardeners in northeast Kansas. In his words: “I am not a horticulturist. By education I am an economist. By experience, I am a marketing guru from a local to an international scale. Gardening was taught to me by my grandfather and my mom, and I’ve been doing it since World War II was going on.”

Steve can be contacted at, or leave questions or comments below.

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